By Lee Perlman
For the Hollywood Star News, June, 2010
The Portland City Council last month approved a new set of regulations governing changes at or the addition of new facilities to athletic fields belonging to either the Portland Bureau of Parks or school districts. In most cases, such fields are zoned for residential use, are operated under a Conditional Use permit, and a public process is required to make changes in the fields or the way they are used.
In some cases the new rules would require public notice where none had been called for before. In most cases, however, the changes would downgrade the level of public process required to make changes. In some cases, in place of formal public review, neighborhood associations and interested neighbors would be offered the chance to negotiate a Good Neighbor agreement with the field’s owner. The changes would also extend the grace period, during which a field can go unused before its conditional use disappears, from the previous three years to ten.
Some of the changes cost Commissioner Nick Fish, who brought the proposal, a vote of support. Commissioner Amanda Fritz called for a higher level of public involvement than the draft called for. Fish agreed to some changes but not enough for Fritz, who cast the sole dissenting vote on Council.
Proposed changes at Grant Park’s athletic bowl and a change in the level of use at a Beverly Cleary School field were the subject of recent controversy and would be affected by the changes.